Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Abuses at Saguro Prison call for immediate state action
by Larry Geller
KITV reported yesterday on a lawsuit filed by Hawaii inmates held on the Mainland at Saguaro Correctional Center in Eloy, Arizona. Saguaro is a facility built to house Hawaii prisoners, and since it does not house any inmates from Arizona, it is not subject to regulation as are other prisons in the Arizona system.
The allegations are horrendous. A snip:
Attorney [John} Rapp said the 18 inmates suing claim Saguaro guards have beated and threatened them regularly after stripping them down to their underwear and hauling them out of their cells, one by one.
"The guards are banging their heads on tables, threatening them, beating them, kicking them, punching them," said Rapp.
Rapp said Saguaro guards have also told the Hawaii inmates they will kill them or keep beating them until the prisoners commit suicide to stop the pain.
Rapp said the guards' threats to the inmates have continued up until the present.
Rapp said this week a Saguaro guard told an inmate if he and the others did not withdraw the lawsuit, "he would be cut into a million pieces. His mother would never see him again. So, the threats are continuing." [KITV, 18 Hawaii Inmates At Mainland Prison Sue State, 12/14/2010]
Hawaii needs to move immediately to stop the violence at Saguaro, and not wait for an injunction to be issued. For one thing, the state, as a defendant in the case, is accused of having full knowledge of the conditions at the prison.
"Inmates were told that if they told anyone what had happened, they would be killed or beaten further.
"CCA personnel, including the warden himself, threatened parents of some inmates, including with longer incarceration."
The inmates also sued Hawaii, which sent them to the prison. They say: "During many of the occurrences alleged above, defendant State of Hawaii had on site its contract monitor, John Ioane, who had actual knowledge and personally was aware of some of the above occurrences, and yet acquiesced in and permitted them to continue."
The inmates demand a protective injunction and punitive damages from CCA, Hawaii and Ioane, for assault and battery, cruel and unusual punishment, coercion and retaliation. [Courthouse News Service, Brutality at a Private Prison, 12/15/2010]
Regardless of the allegation, Hawaii has been put on notice with the filing of this suit that lives are at stake as a result of its shipment of Hawaii prisoners to the Mainland. It’s no longer a question of what a judge will decide, but what the people of Hawaii want to see changed.
Lingle is out, Abercrombie is in. He can decide whether to begin bringing exiled prisoners back home or choose some other course of action to assure that the violence is stopped immediately.
Gov. Abercrombie has inherited a bit of a crisis, but it will be nothing compared to reaction should Hawaii inmates be mistreated or killed as a result of the filing of this lawsuit.
Surprise, surprise, Saguaro Prison is a private for profit operation. For profit means the goal of the prison is to make money by hook or crook. Of course the normal ways private for profit corporations pad the profit is low wages and ignoring rules and regulations, a bad formula in a prison.
Corrections Corporation of American; prisons located in Arizona...hmmm. Do you recall that recently proposed legislation included lobbyists for GEO and CCA, the two largest prison vendors in the U.S., promoting criminalization of illegal immigration and rewriting federal law to increase their incarcerated clientelle? Simultaneously, we had the governor of AZ declaring that people can be arrested if they don't have the proper identification papers..."Papers please"... What decade is this - and what country is this? And I do recall that former governor Lingle opposed an audit of the Hawaii contract with CCA - what kind of management is that? With a newly elected Democratic Governor, I do hope we can return to some human rights acknowledgements and reasonable business practices that do not devastate our people and the budget. Without delay, if you don't mind.